Demonstrating -- once again -- football's importance in the Lone Star State, Texas Gov. Rick Perry is getting dragged into college football's conference-realignment wars.
In this instance, T. Boone Pickens -- a financial patron saint to Oklahoma State -- is calling for the GOP presidential front-runner to save the Big 12 conference.
A quick primer: Perry's alma mater of Texas A&M is looking to head to the SEC; Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are eyeing the PAC-12; and the University of Texas wants to hold the conference together, though it's keeping its options open and might also head to the PAC-12.
The potential political headache for Perry back home is that this possible realignment -- triggered by A&M -- leaves out Texas schools like Baylor, which could upset the alumni (and voters) from those schools.
Full disclosure: Your author is a proud graduate and fan of the University of Texas.
The Daily Oklahoman:
Boone Pickens doesn't believe the Big 12 is dead. The Oklahoma State benefactor even believes Texas A&M's departure for the SEC can be stopped.
"I think the Aggies are sobering up," Pickens told The Oklahoman.
Pickens has even pulled out the big sales job. He's petitioned Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who is running for the Republican presidential nomination.
Pickens said he told Perry to show America that "you fix problems, don't contribute to 'em."
Perry is a former Texas A&M yell leader. "After the Aggies leave school, they're still looking for a yell leader," Pickens said. He said he told Perry to be that leader.
Pickens, whose BP Capital Management office is based in Dallas and who has many A&M ties, said a month ago that he tried to talk the Aggie leadership into staying in the Big 12 but it was a lost cause.
Now, Pickens said he's not so sure.
"I keep thinking they're hearing me," Pickens said. "I'm not sure they're listening to me. But they trust me."
Pickens said Baylor's threat of a lawsuit is real. The Bears have declined to waive their right to sue the SEC, should the Aggies be admitted to that conference.
"Baylor is going to do anything," Pickens said. He likened Baylor to the jackrabbit that is chased by the faster greyhound but isn't caught.
"The difference is, one's running for the fun of it," Pickens said, "and one's running for its life. There's no question they'll file a lawsuit. They sure can stir up a hell of a lot of problems."
Pickens said his plan for A&M is to tell the University of Texas that the Aggies will stay in the Big 12, but only if UT folds its Longhorn Network into an equitable revenue distribution. However, that's a different cause than what irks A&M and OU about the Longhorn Network. The network's association with ESPN, which has pushed to air high school content, bothers the Sooners and Aggies, who believe it would give Texas a recruiting advantage.
"I would cut them off on that thing real quick," Pickens said. "Your problem is DeLoss (Dodds, UT's athletic director). DeLoss is a guy who's always played with all the cards.
"I told him six weeks ago, 'we understand you've got the best hand. But you can't keep doing that to people. You gotta show leadership.
"Big 12, come to your senses. Step up on leadership. Explain to Texas that whatever they have that's different, it's not (going to be) different anymore."
Pickens said his message to OSU president Burns Hargis and athletic director Mike Holder is be patient.
Pickens said if OSU and OU enter the Pac-12, "are you going to be full-fledged members? Not ever, probably. You'll be viewed as the division without the ocean. You'll get to play SC (Southern Cal) at Stillwater every eight years. That's not much of a deal."